“This golf course gives up a lot of birdies, and he’s a good player,” Poulter said. “And in this form, he’s going to make a lot of birdies. I just need to do my thing tomorrow and make a lot more than what he does. I’m going to have to see what happens coming down the stretch.”
Poulter was talking about Sunday afternoon. He didn’t realize he would be getting some help on Saturday.
Johnson’s tee shot sailed to the right and into the middle of the lake on the 18th. It appeared that he could have dropped further up the fairway, but playing partners Boo Weekley and Bubba Watson didn’t offer much help as to where (or if) the shot ever crossed land before it entered the hazard. Not wanting to take any chance, Johnson opted to return to the tee. He ripped another drive down the edge of the water, this time with his draw to reach the fairway.
But his approach went left near the lip of a bunker, and he did well to blast out to 15 feet and take two putts for his 7.
Johnson was at 18-under 198 and will be in the final group with Poulter and Graeme McDowell, who had a 64 and was four shots behind.
Rory McIlroy birdied three of his last five holes for a 67 and was six shots behind, along with Graham DeLaet and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, who each had a 65.
They still had an outside chance, though so much of that depends on Johnson and how to he responds to his pair of double bogeys.
“I’m still a little mad from my double bogey on 18,” Johnson said. “Obviously, to have a three-shot lead going into the last day is good and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I still have to play really well. The guys that are right behind me, they’re playing very well, too. So it’s still going to be a tough day tomorrow. Got to come out and make a lot of birdies.”